Saturday, December 22, 2018

This Thing Called Life

This Thing Called Life is a retrospective biography by Joseph Vogel on the life and music of Prince. The author is a well known author, critic, and popular culture expert.

Published by Bloomsbury Academic press, released 19th April 2018, it's 240 pages and available in ebook and hardcover formats.

As a nonfiction book and biography, it's full of verifiable facts.  Anyone could just find those online. What this author brings to the table is a genuine expertise in assessing and explaining the cultural impact of Prince's music and style in his time and after his death.  The book has an interesting layout. Instead of being written around a chronological timeline, it's written thematically. There are discussions about Prince and his feelings about and impact on: politics, music, race, gender, sex, religion, and death.  This format leads to some overlap and repetition.  I found myself searching through the book backwards sometimes to re-read something from an earlier chapter.  While the historical research is precise, the larger takeaway from the book is Mr. Vogel's knowledge of modern music and culture.

I did learn a lot about the artist and his legacy to music and culture but I think I learned more about the culture and music of the 80s than I did about Prince himself.  The book is extensively footnoted and the exhaustive bibliography at the end is worth the price of admission. 

I could see this being a good book club selection for music/bio/culture book clubs. This would also make a remarkably good support textbook for a lot of courses such as modern American culture, pop music, possibly gender studies, etc...  Good book, well written.

Five stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

No comments:

Post a Comment